The Beautiful Brain explores the latest findings from the ever-growing field of neuroscience through monthly long-form essays, reviews, galleries, short-form blog posts and more, with particular attention to the dialogue between the arts and sciences.
Three artists. Three approaches to visualizing our inner landscapes. This month we present interviews with Constance Jacobson, Audrey Goldstein, and Heidi Whitman, three contemporary artists whose work is decidedly brain-themed, ranging from sculpture, to painting, to performance art and beyond.
Be sure to check out our exclusive online gallery of selected works by each of these artists as you listen to the interviews about their artistic process, their specific interests in the brain, and the potential– as well as the limits– of the dialogue between the arts and the sciences.
Three interviews and a roundup of the latest neuroscience news all in this edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast. Total runtime: 55:40
This month we are delighted to present an interview with Mark Changizi, author of The Vision Revolution, an active blogger, and an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
His research aims to grasp the ultimate foundations underlying why we think, feel and see as we do. Focusing on “why” questions, he has made important discoveries on why we see in color, why we have forward-facing eyes, why letters are shaped as they are, and why the brain is organized as it is.
His research has been published in numerous journals and has been covered in many mainstream outlets, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, and Time Magazine, among others. The full interview with Mark Changizi and a roundup of the latest news from the brain sciences, all in this edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast. Total runtime: 1:01:38
This month we are proud to present an interview with Joseph LeDoux, the acclaimed neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Emotional Brain and Synaptic Self. LeDoux’s research into emotion in the brain has led to groundbreaking findings in the realms of fear and memory. His primary area of concern is the amygdala, the center of fear processing in the brain, and most recently his work in animal models has uncovered just how flexible and dynamic memory can be… kind of like Joe himself, who also is the frontman for the rock band The Amygdaloids, whose brain-themed songs will be released in an album featuring Rosanne Cash later this year. Science, rock music, and the news, all on this edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast. Total runtime: 33:42
In the second edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast we examine the relationship between painting and mental illness and injury through interviews with Dr. Anjan Chatterjee of the University of Pennsylvania and internationally celebrated artist Katherine Sherwood, who suffered a massive stroke in 1997 but continued to paint following the stroke, switching to her left hand. We’re also excited to present an online gallery here at The Beautiful Brain featuring some of Katherine Sherwood’s paintings, which incorporate scientific imagery of her own brain, and some of her more recent works inspired by the drawings of the great Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal. Dr. Chatterjee is a leading researcher on the neuropsychology of art, examining the effects of mental illness and injury on art and using the art itself to form hypotheses about what happens in the brain during the creative process. Those interviews, the news, and a report on a recent synesthesia symposium in New York City all on this edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast, hosted by Noah Hutton. Total runtime: 34’30
The University of Copenhagen, pictured above, hosted the first annual Copenhagen Neuraesthetics Conference.
This month, in our inaugural edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast, we explore the young and somewhat chaotic world of neuroaesthetics, which seeks to answer questions about creativity, the mind of the artist, and the mind of the observer. Noah reports on his trip to the Copenhagen Neuroaesthetics Conference and interviews John Onians, a founder and pioneer of neuroarthistory, which uses the empirical findings of neuroscience to help explain historical trends and cultural differences in visual art across centuries and around the world. Total runtime: 32’00”
When I was in Spain, last spring, I visited the National Library in Madrid, where original manuscripts of Don Quixote and other classics are preserved. I searched for every single book about Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Throughout my research, I had already seen most of them. But I hadn’t seen Los Sueños de Santiago Ramón y Cajal, published earlier that year. I took the book to the central reading room and could not believe my eyes. The father of modern neuroscience kept a dream diary from 1918 until 1934, when he died. He wanted to disprove the theories of Freud. I had known about his work as an experimental psychologist, studying hypnotism and suggestion out of his own home. I knew that his ultimate goal was to understand the human mind by examining the anatomical substrate of the brain. But I had no idea that he would have kept such a personal account of his own unconscious. Perhaps this is why he chose not to publish his findings, in the end. I was deeply moved by some of the dreams. Here was a side of the great genius that no one knew. The story of the book was stuff of legend; thought lost during the Spanish Civil War, it was guarded by a Spanish psychiatrist during his travels throughout Europe and uncovered just recently by Spanish scholars. Read more about it all in Nautilus Magazine, which published some of my translated excerpts along with an introduction.